What is BPD?

Borderline Personality Disorder is in my opinion one of the most misunderstood, stigmatised and complex mental health diagnoses. One could write pages relating to the condition and a layman’s understanding would still be incomplete! For this reason I am going to try and keep this page as short, simple and concise as I can, and I will try and relate my writing back to my own experiences as much as possible.

What BPD feels/looks like:

  • Intense feelings of loneliness and an inability to sit with myself without resorting to poor coping behaviours.
  • Extreme emotional vulnerability and sensitivity, and hence feelings of severe internal distress often triggered by apparently ‘menial’ stimuli.
  • Slow return to baseline: strong emotions and cognitions which are evoked in me tend to take a very long time to dissipate and can torment me for hours or days.
  • Feelings of ‘dying inside’, immense emotional turbulence and pain, distress beyond explanation and feeling as though my emotions are so impossible to live with that they will surely kill me.
  • My emotions are in control of me, I am not in control of my emotional world.
  • Impulsive behaviours and an inability to ‘think before I act’ and ‘learn from my mistakes’ time and time again.
  • Extreme and rapid mood swings ranging from debilitating periods of depression to somewhat dysphoric and delusional bouts of mania.
  • Paranoia and anxiety, especially in interpersonal circumstances.
  • Problems with ‘attachment’ especially with authority and care-giver figures e.g. therapists, teachers, etc. Subsequent and related feelings of insatiable neediness, cravings for attention, and jealousy of others who “threaten” the chances of my needs being met in these circumstances.
  • A history of suicidal ideation, tendencies and threats.
  • Multiple short and long-term admissions to A&E, hospitals and other institutions.
  • Risk-taking and thrill-seeking behaviours as well as chronic boundary-pushing and rule-breaking, especially with authority figures/ in institutional settings.
  • Extreme struggles with (real and/or perceived) abandonment, rejection, disappointment, and hence going to any lengths to avoid this.
  • Self-destructive tendencies, especially self-injurious behaviour (SIB) mostly through cutting. This has also manifested through eating disordered behaviours, alcohol and drug abuse. Others may struggle with sex, spending, gambling, and other addictive behaviours.
  • Lack of sense of self: constantly having to define myself based on my external world and lacking a fundamental secure sense of a ‘true me’. Only being able to have an idea of who I am by looking at evidence and cues in the people and world around me, and/or defining myself by my external abilities and achievements only.
  • Struggles with dissociation and suffering from periods of derealisation (feeling as though the world around me is not real, is foggy, distant and impossible to reach) and depersonalisation (feeling as though I do not exist, am not in my body, and am not in control of my thoughts or actions).
  • Difficulties with appropriately expressing my anger, often leading to heightened displays and outbursts of intense pent-up emotion.
  • A highly severe guilt and shame complex in response to every imperfect interaction or perceived personal failure.
  • Feelings of self-hatred, self-loathing, hopelessness, despair, especially in response to making mistakes that impact those around me.
  • Black-and-white/ all-or-nothing thinking patterns as well as the tendency to engage in ‘catastrophic thinking’, ‘mind-reading’ and jumping to conclusions.
  • High perceptiveness of people and circumstances around me, to the point of unhealthy and paranoid hyper-vigilance.
  • Feelings of being misunderstood by the world and people around me and of ‘never fitting in’, always being on a different wave-length to my fellow demographical counterparts.
  • ‘Splitting’: rapidly changing perceptions of myself and people around me from one extreme to the other, and an inability to hold two opposing potential truths in mind.
  • Manipulative behaviours such as playing people in my life off against each other, asking multiple people the same thing until I receive the answer I am looking for, convolutedly threatening self-destructive tendencies if my needs remain unmet, etc.

In DBT, the belief is that BPD arises due to the transaction between an individual’s emotional vulnerability, and an (early) invalidating environment. This theory is known as the Biosocial Model.

14 thoughts on “What is BPD?

  1. Wonderfully descriptive. It is me. All of the above. It feels like some kind of hell, yet stuck on repeat. A Purgatory of sorts.


  2. This is a good checklist, and from another person with BPD, very accurate! Thank you for following my blog(s) btw, I hope you like what you find. I just discovered yours too and looking forward to doing more reading! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I pray you mature and one day be more than just a BPD diagnosis…

    Trust yourself, listen to your intuition.

    You are unique. Don’t worry about where you fit-in in life, you won’t.
    I reccomend maybe spending more time working on the positive things about yourself, like possibly your high IQ and your ability to understand and feel deeply.

    Male, 21, Australia.
    All of the BPD description,


    • Thanks, I’m not really sure what to make of this. I can’t tell if you’re being kind or having a jab at me. Yeah some days it doesn’t feel like it but I know I am more than my BPD diagnosis. And I am working on other aspects of my life so hope that is recognised too! Thanks though – I guess?!


      • You’re welcome.

        Sometimes truth can be both helpful and hurtful, I apologise.
        Also I am distressed by your story, I feel for you and worry you have become pathologised by the institutions you seem to depend on.

        I reccomend listening/ reading up on people like Eckhart tolle and Sadghuru.

        I believe you have allot of potential, you seem very self aware and I believe your issues come from your over sensitivity to that around you and the disappointment of not being able to live up to the standards built and supported by the general public.

        The world is not always a nice place,
        I believe you are aware of this…
        Most are not.



      • I understand your concerns but really, I am very much moving away from that dependency. I am no longer in treatment, I have finished group DBT. I am just in therapy. I am trying to get on with my life, Uni and work and social things. Trust me I am 100x less dependent than I was! Thanks though.

        And yes, but I am having to learn that sometimes the world is safer than I have always believed it to be – and that is important too.

        I’ll give them a listen/ read 🙂



  4. I was diagnosed at McLean only a year ago, and it was actually a huge relief. It wasn’t a crazy mashup of a million other things anymore, it was one thing that I could finally understand and get the proper help for. I’m really, really terrible at talking to people, but now when I fall apart over something seemingly insignificant, I have an explanation, even to myself. I’ve been processing this bullshit since I was six, and therapy never helped. Meds only dulled everything, but it was always there. I’m still really new to it, but DBT is the first thing that has ever made a real difference.

    I really love reading your blog. It helps remind me that I’m not the only person going through this, and that I really can get to a better place. And, most recently, it’s reminding me that slipping isn’t failing.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re final sentence about slipping not being equal to failing really hit me. I’m so glad that you find reading my blog helpful and that you’ve got more support, hope and relief since you’re diagnosis. Take care 🙂


  5. Thank you for being willing to share. Your explanatory notes really helped me as a parent learning the DBT skills and jargon with my teen. My child is actually diagnosed with RAD, but shares 90 percent of the challenges you have successfully faced. I am so grateful for your encouraging and specific examples.

    Good job!
    Mom A.


  6. You totally hit the nail on the head here.

    “Problems with ‘attachment’ especially with authority and care-giver figures e.g. therapists, teachers, etc. Subsequent and related feelings of insatiable neediness, cravings for attention, and jealousy of others who “threaten” the chances of my needs being met in these circumstances.”

    This is my worst trait and takes over my entire life,
    more so than the other symptoms and it’s absolute torture. I feel comfort in the sense I’m not alone here, as a lot of professionals I have spoke to appear to be puzzled when I mention my attachement issues. If you have any resources etc that have helped you deal with this symptom, please let me know.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh my goodness this is my biggest struggle also. So many of my posts are centred on this between myself and my therapist, and the subsequent pain of that. I have yet to find a cure, but I am hoping EMDR will help… and knowing I’m not alone speaking to others who accept and relate to me. I’m so sorry you’re suffering too, take care.


  7. Yeah I had this I am sure when I left my empotionally abusive Japanese husband/pedophile in 1995. He had controlled my thinking and actions since I was 17 and that drove me to have most of the symptoms here. I became super impulsive and for many years I would drop men, work and responsibilities like they were nothing. I became a culture binging karaoke queen essentially. Only by the luck of meeting a good man and later by the grace of God was I able to become normal again. I can now feel my self.


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